“Speaking of couples, have you given any thought to dating again? Are there any new guys in your life?” Camilla asked.
The beer immediately soured in Vivian’s mouth. She finished off the drink and slammed it down on the table, her knuckles rigid with indignation.
After her disastrous involvement with the serial killer Milo, Vivian was more than a little perturbed at the thought of intimacy. Time is supposedly a balm for all wounds, but it still stung like a fresh cut.
“I’m on a sabbatical from love for a while.”
In truth, Vivian hadn’t recovered from her dependency on Milo. Dependency was the only word to characterize their toxic relationship. She was addicted to him in ways no drug or liquor could replicate. For a girl who was terrified of commitment, once upon a time she was more than willing to marry him and create a new life together. Milo made her feel emotions she only thought existed on the movie screen or between the pages of a bloody romance novel. It was bliss in its purest and truest form.
Of course, that fairytale was tarnished when Milo’s homicidal tendencies came to light. Seeing a corpse with its intestines wrenched out and nailed to the walls has a way of killing the honeymoon fantasies.
“I was afraid you might say that,” Camilla murmured, lifting her glass to her lips.
Vivian shrugged, offering up no apology.
“I’ve been a lone wolf and a stubborn, single gal for so long. I have a record of disparaging marriage and looking down on it. You know it’s not my cup of tea, darling. You have to understand, it’s so hard to meet someone you connect with on every level. I felt that with Milo.” She bit her lip. “And it hurts like hell when you lose that connection. It gouges you to the bone and never lets up. Not for days, not for weeks.”
“I know. I came to you when you couldn’t work up the strength to get out of bed.”
That memory brought a gleam to Vivian’s eyes.
“You never got the praise you deserved for staying up late at night with me, trying to numb the tears with movie marathons. Thanks for every second it. You were holding my hand when I was drowning.”
Vivian signaled for the waiter to fetch her another drink.
“But I have to admit, even with all the support of family and friends, the heartbreak is still a journey you ultimately undertake alone. It’s all on you once that wave of grief comes crashing in, tide after tide sweeping you out to the darkness.”
Her gaze panned to the lush, tropical sea, flaming in the sun like a reddening pool of bronze. The ambient noise of sea spray flinging into the air, flavored with the evocative smell of summers past, filled Vivian with a jolt of hopefulness. It was anything but the darkness she described on the discolored surface of her heart. She peeked at Camilla over the top of her crystal glass of beer, whom was waiting for her to elaborate. She always knew when to speak, wait, or savor the silence between them. Only best friends understood that connection.
And God damn it, that bond was certainly stronger than whatever relationship kept her enslaved to Milo.